Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The BIG Giveaway--5 Days remaining!

What? You think I'm being annoying with all of my Facebook/Email and Blog updates regarding our giveaway? You haven't seen anything yet! With five days remaining, my annoying-ness is about to go to be taken to a totally different level! Come on, my friends! Click here and go to the "donate" button. Your donation will enter you into our giveaway which includes AMAZING prizes!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our move to ETHIOPIA---a RAFFLE!

My good friend is sponsoring an amazing raffle for us as we raise money for our work in Ethiopia. Check it out here

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We are moving---so buy my Ethiopian stuff!

(Lemons and my fingers not included)
So, I'm not ebay savvy, and I JUST figured out paypal! But I want to unload a bit of Ethiopian stuff that I have collected over the years. Here is the first item, and I have six of them. Shoot me a comment or email if you would like to buy one!

Handmade Gambella Baskets made by the Anuak of Ethiopia! $15 and shipping is included!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We are moving to ETHIOPIA!


Uh huh! It's so for real, we can hardly believe it! We are really and truly moving to Ethiopia!

Back Story:
I first worked in Ethiopia in 2002 after completing undergrad. I worked in a refugee camp with Sudanese refugees. This was my first real exposure to Ethiopia directly, and certainly it was a period of time in my life that shaped me so much! My first experience in life of living alone was in Ethiopia! Crazy, huh? Nathan and I were dating at the time, and he came to visit me. After a day long bus ride that included chickens, goats, three people to a seat and death defying turns through the highlands, we finally made it to Addis. That evening he proposed (Feb 13, 2003---Because Valentines Day is soooo obvious).

I left Ethiopia in July 2003 and we got married in September 2003. Nathan started grad school soon after and I started my work at World Relief. We kept thinking that one day we would return to work in Ethiopia and always hoped that it would be sooner rather than later. We returned to Ethiopia in 2004 to check out a few projects in hopes that something would work out for us to return, but alas the timing was not meant to be.

Fast forward through Nate's whole grad school program and the first few years of mine, and we found ourselves again in Ethiopia during the summer of 2008 as I completed my field work for my Masters of Social Work. We had a wonderful summer, including meeting the child that would eventually become our daughter in Dec of 2009. Having Yitayal only strengthened our desire to return to Ethiopia one day to work for a longer period of time.

And we we searched for jobs. Nate interviewed in international schools, I talked with people in refugee work, but nothing really seemed to work out. I was offered a position in a remote place that wouldn't allow me to bring my family, and Nate was liked in many places but no positions were ever open at the right time. And so we tabled the idea and tried to move on.

Then, one day it all kinda came together. I can't really explain it better than that! An opportunity arose that would allow both Nathan and I to have fulfilling work all for the same organization. And so we had several interviews on Skype, flew to Philadelphia for a weekend long interview and were eventually offered positions to manage a children's home in Soddo, Ethiopia.

We plan to leave in July 2011---the next few months are going to be freaking insane! We are thrilled for so many reasons---a fulfillment of a long-time dream, working and living in Ethiopia, doing work that is professional fulfilling, and having the opportunity to get to know our daughters birth country in a more personal way. We will be working for an organization called Aerie Africa, and have come to really love the work they are doing.

We will work and live at a home for children (yes, some call homes like this "orphanages") and will provide management and oversight to the home and to the US based Board of Directors. As a social worker, I am primarily interested in the psychological adjustment and well being of the kids and really look forward to collaborating with the staff to ensure that we are doing the best job possible to provide a loving and supportive (albeit institutionalized) home for the kids.

So, that's the news, y'all! We are pumped! Maybe I'm just a little bit nervous. You know, packing all of those boxes, leaving my job, selling our stuff, etc. The next few months will be a total whirlwind of activity! If you are interested in providing any financial support, please check this out (including a rationale of why we need the support). Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The force of family

(no clue who took this pic, so sorry for stealing it!)
Two weeks ago we drove to Atlanta to attend the memorial service for my Aunt Jeanette who battled cancer for 18 years. 18 years.

Two weeks before that I spoke with many of my cousins and siblings. The conversations went something like this:
"So, things don't look very good with Aunt Net, do they?"
"I think this really is the end."
"Do you think you will make it to Atlanta?"
"Probably not. I have school/work/family obligations and it is a 12 hour drive/$450 flight."

On Feb 11th we got the news that she had passed. On Feb 26th, 27 out of 33 family members gathered together to celebrate her life. (And the missing members had some darn good reasoning for missing, including pending surgery and overseas deployment). And what a celebration it was.

There really is something good and healing about crying together and laughing together with people who know you well. I grew up having very close relationships with my extended family, but distance has certainly made our times together limited. And we are all very different now. (Let's not begin to talk about politics or how we practice our faith. Things could get messy).

But as we shared memories together about our Aunt and who she was in our life and in this world, a closeness and intimacy still existed between us all. The seven-layer Mexican dip is always a staple, as is story/sharing time. It's cheesy and sometimes forced these days, but also familiar and comfortable.

Attending the memorial together and spending the weekend with my family unleashed a sense of grief that I wasn't even aware that I had. I told N on Saturday, after spending hours crying at the service (um, yes the service was hours long. That's just how my family roles), that I didn't even feel like it would be possible to return to work the next week. I just felt too sad and overwhelmed. I did return and that heaviness did begin to leave the following week, but it was a reminder to me that when you take time to grieve, it can be all consuming. And so I think that I hadn't really allowed myself the chance to grieve in the earlier weeks simply because it was too hard and because it was easier not to feel anything and not to remember. It took hearing stories, being with people who knew her and looking at pictures to remember all of the things that I loved about my Aunt. And to be reminded of all the pieces that made her who she was OTHER than just a Cancer patient/survivor/victim.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Family Photos

We took these in October and I am FINALLY posting them now! Maybe I should order some before she turns five, huh???? Thanks to Megan for her mad skillz!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The World Can Wait!

Chicago isn't exactly as cool as THE city that never sleeps, but it does feel like a pretty busy place! Yesterday was a welcome gift as our snow finally amounted to something so extreme that the city has actually shut down. Y is out of school, N is out of school, and I am off work. This is better than Christmas (seriously, since I had to work on that day)!

There is something kind of peaceful about knowing that you can't do anything.

We can't go to work, go visit with friends, go grocery shopping.


With all due respect to those who have been without power, I am loving this magical mid-week gift!